(02 July 2002) Best known for his progressive rock project Ayreon (Ayreonauts Only review, Flight Of The Migrator review, The Dream Sequencer review) and his recent collaboration with Astrid van der Veen on Ambeon's Fate Of A Dreamer (review), Arjen Anthony Lucassen has chosen to expand his artistsic identity with a new project called Star One. The debut album is a ten-track collection entitled Space Metal (InsideOut (USA) 6 93723 65042 5, 2002). Early editions include a six-track bonus CD. It is Lucassen's first release on the InsideOut label.
Lucassen says, "Ayreon has come to be known as having many different musical styles while Star One focuses mainly just on the heavy side of my music. The songs are more straightforward and guitar-oriented but they are still progressive. This album was never intended to be an Ayreon album, so calling it Ayreon just wouldn't feel right to me." There are clear Lucassen tendencies in the album and while it is not an Ayreon album per se, it will most certainly appeal to Ayeron enthusiasts. The name Star One is derived from an episode of Arjen's favourite science fiction TV series called Blakes 7.
The material isn't a continuous story or a rock opera, yet it is still very much a concept album. Instead of a continuous story, the individual songs are all based on space movies and are designed to act as a vehicle that takes the listener on a journey through Arjen's mind and memory. Although the main melodies are dominated by male vocals, lovely female vocal-based choirs courtesy of Floor Jansen (After Forever) are reminiscent of Lucassen's other work.
Arjen spoke about the singers. "To ensure that the vocals didn't all sound the same, I used very different sounding singers. Though appearing in the same songs, the different singers were used to convey different moods." Dan Swano (ex-Edge Of Sanity, Nightingale) sings the low parts. Russell Allen (Symphony X) sings the powerful rough parts while Damian Wilson (ex-Threhshold, ex-Landmarq) sings the high clear parts. Robert Soeterboek (Ayreon) sang the backing vocals with his huge smoky voice.
Other artists involved in the project include Ed Warby (drums), Erik Norlander (keyboards), Jens Johansson (keyboards), Gary Wehrkamp (guitars) and Dave Brock (guest vocals). The album includes memorable melodies, hard rocking guitar solos and vast keyboard excursions.
Readers will be drawn to incredible variety of the different tunes on the recording and the lush vocal melodies within each of the tracks. Production quality is typically of Arjen Anthony Lucassen--simply stunning. The epic closing number "Starchild" with its vast guitar solos and Damian's soaring lead vocal is and supporting harmonies is most reminscent of Lucassen's earlier Electric Castle work.
The album version with the bonus CD should be sought out by serious Arjen Anthony Lucassen enthusiasts. In addition to the incredible cover of "Space Oddity," two versions of "Spaced Out" grace the disc. The final alternate mix includes lead vocals by Damian Wilson, Robert Soeterbuck and a stunning--while short--multi-tracked part by After Forever's Floor Jansen. Interested readers should visit our After Forever feature for further information. The track's vast reaching keyboard solos are especially notable.
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here. This incredible new project by Arjen Anthony Lucassen should be investigated thoroughly because worth a trans-Atlantic journey, it is clearly a must listen!